Conclusion - Pros

  • Good resolution (considering the size of the lens), though not as good as Canon S40
  • Good natural light white balance, vivid yet well balanced colour reproduction
  • Compact size, light weight, very good build quality
  • Pixel mapping does away with worries over 'dead pixels'
  • Clean ISO 100, hardly any visible noise (although measured as closer to ISO 80)
  • Unique 'My Mode' for memorized / pre-programmed settings
  • On screen buffer status display
  • Huge range of control over internal processing algorithms (sharpeness, contrast, saturation)
  • Large range of white balance settings
  • Good range of 'digital effects'
  • Fairly fast in use, good shot to shot times. (Although slow startup time)
  • Good low light focus ability (for a camera without an AF assist lamp)
  • Shooting priority play mode (a half-press of the shutter release always returns to shooting)
  • Excellent range of manual controls (essentially equal to the C-4040Z)
  • Manual focus has zoomed view and 'ruler' readout
  • Long exposure noise reduction works well
  • USB connectivity
  • Use of just two AA batteries (average battery performance)
  • Underwater housing available
  • Optional waterproof casing

Conclusion - Cons

  • Strong chromatic aberrations
  • Moire artifacts
  • Diagonal jaggies
  • Over aggressive sharpening (can be lowered via record menu)
  • Some hue shift with manual white balance under fluorescent light
  • Lens soft towards edge / corners
  • Lens slow at telephoto (F4.8)
  • Limited (2.8x) zoom should be considered
  • SmartMedia (max 128 MB) could be a factor (SHQ JPEG = 2.3 MB)
  • Slow SM write speed (approx. 380 KB/sec)
  • Limited apertures at telephoto
  • Zoom controller does not have enough increments / multiple zoom speed
  • Some barrel distortion at wide angle

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Olympus C-40Z: (4 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 8.5
Image quality 7.5
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8.5
Value for money 8

As a go anywhere four megapixel the C-40Z is well designed. It's small, light and the sliding lens cover is well engineered and works well to 'seal' the camera for carrying in a bag or pocket. On top of this the camera also has a full range of manual controls including aperture, shutter priority and even full manual. Then there are scene modes and the new 'My Mode' option which can be used to pre-program camera settings to your personal preference.

Perfomance was relatively good, auto focus, lag and shot to shot times were all good. The only wait would be for initial startup (about 2 seconds longer than competitive cameras). Overall image quality was good, vivid colours, good metering and a fairly good tonal balance. There were however a few problems.

Here are my major gripes - The lens / CCD system exhibitted chromatic aberrations under both natural and artificial light. The bright yellow highlight effect of moire was visible on more shots than I'd have liked. The image 'production' processing algorithm seems rather unsophisticated compared to some of the competition which can give the C-40Z's images a 'video like look'.

I struggled with the C-40Z's overall rating, looking at it from a portability / features / functionality and usability point of view it deserves the Recommended rating. HOWEVER the image quality problems, a good number of which could I'm sure have been solved in the camera's processing algorithms, pushed the overall rating of this $800 camera just under the Recommended rating.

Above Average

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review.

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